Trump’s Executive Order on Anti-Semitism:
A Major Attack on Critical Thinking and Academic Freedom



Imagine this scenario:

A student in a class on Middle Eastern history points out that relatively few Jews (less than 100,000) lived in the territory of Palestine at the time that the Zionist movement was founded. She brings out quotes from the Austrian-Jewish founder of the movement, Theodor Herzl, which underscore the colonial nature of the project. She draws on the Israeli author Ilan Pappé to expose the brutal and, yes, genocidal character of the Israeli war of 1948 against the Palestinians (and some Arab nations) which led to the founding of the state of Israel.

The professor does not endorse these remarks but does not shut down the student for bringing them up. A Jewish student then complains to the U.S. Department of Education that this classroom discussion made him feel endangered on campus. A federal investigation is opened, and under Trump’s executive order issued this week, the Department of Education tells the school that if they do not punish the student who made the points and fire the professor, they will lose all federal funding.

Outrageous? Yes. A threat to critical thinking and free speech? Yes. But now definitely possible, thanks to Trump’s executive order. Later this week, we will show how dangerous this new edict is, how this fits in with the whole Trump/Pence fascist consolidation, how this supposedly “pro-Jewish” order reinforces anti-Semitism, and what must be done in response to this. But for now, we strongly recommend to our readers this in-depth special issue on Israel and Zionism, and this quiz that we have periodically published. 


The Case of Israel: Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?

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